The blue-tongue skink is a unique animal originating from South-East Asia and Oceania, and characterized by its bright blue tongue which is used to scare potential predators away.
Blue tongue lizards are increasingly popular as pets thanks to their intelligence and tame disposition.
Known scientifically as “tiliqua”, blue-tongue skinks come in all different colors and shapes, and there are actually dozens of species and sub-species. Some can be kept as pets, some are extremely rare, or unfortunately on the verge of exctinction.
Below, a list of 12 major blue-tongued skink species known, in alphabetical order.
Blue Tongue Skink Species
Blotched Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua nigrolutea
The blotched blue tongue skink is native of Australia, where it can be found around coasts, forests and plains around the continent. Unlike other species of blue-tongued lizards, they do not have a striped body but rather “blotches” from which they get their name.
“Blotchies” used to be popular amongst reptile hobbyists in the past, but are quite rare in the pet trade these days.
Centralian Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua multifasciata
Centralian blue tongued skinks are known for their short tail and “chubby” body shape (kind of like that of an armadillo). They have a distinctive yellow-orange coloration with a striped pattern.
These lizards are native of the Australian outback and are extremely rare outside of the continent. The very few specimens available in the pet trade in the US can sell for severeal thousand dollars each.
Eastern Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua scincoides scincoides
This species is also native of Australia, where it is known simply as “common blue tongued skink” due to it being extremely widespread.
Eastern blue tongue skinks have a pale sandy coloration with orange-brown stripes on each side of the bely and a short, fat tail.
Indonesian Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua gigas gigas
As the name suggests, the Indonesian blue tongued skink is native of Indonesia. They have a generally more light blue-ish body coloration, whereas their tongue is generally pink with a blue tip.
Unfortunately, specimens found in the pet trade are often wild caught imports and prone to disease and aggressive behaviour. Always make sure you purchase your blue tongue lizard from reputable breeders only.
Irian Jaya Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua species (provisional name)
The Irian Jaya is the most mysterious of all species of blue-tongue skink, for it is known to be its own species but has not yet been scientifically classified.
One of the reasons this species is so difficult to categorize is that it displays characteristics of both Australian and Indonesian lizards and countless color variations, which suggests the Irian Jaya may be a hybrid resulting from hundreds of years of evolution, back when Australia and Indonesia used to be connected by a land bridge.
Kei Island Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua gigas keyensis
The Kei Island blue tongue skink originates from a remote region of Indonesia known as the Kei (or Kai) Islands, and is also commonly referred to as “keienses” or “keyensis“.
This species sports a unique coloration ranging from lime green to clay red, sometimes with differently colored stripes and patterns, and generally recognizable by the white tip of the nose.
They are almost always wild caught and sometimes exported for the pet trade under the umbrella name of Indonesian blue tongue skinks.
Merauke Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua gigas evanescens
Also known as the Faded blue tongued skink, this is the longest species by size with reported length of full-grown lizards around 30 inch long.
The Merauke originate from the area around the city they are named after, located in Irian Jaya, and southern Papua New Guinea.
They often display a faded gray coloration including head, body, tail and legs (which are not completely black as in other Indonesian species). They are also thought to have a generally calmer disposition compared to other blue tongues.
Northern Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua scincoides intermedia
The Northern blue tongue skink, native to Australia, is one of the most common and easy to find in the pet trade worldwide, and one of the easiest to breed.
These lizards usually have a pale brown, almost white coloration, but in some cases can also have a bright orange body with brown-ish stripes on the side of their belly.
Shingleback Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua rugosa rugosa
Shingleback blue tongue skinks are some of the most unique species of blue-tongued lizards out there. First of all, they have distinctive, large armored scales, a wide head and short, stubby tail. Secondly, they have a truly unique mating behavior which is unlike most reptiles: they are monogamous and will essentially “move in together” with their mate for several weeks before breeding.
There are four distinct Shingleback sub-species: the Common Shingleback (T. rugosa rugosa), the Eastern Shingleback (T. rugosa aspera), the Sharkbay Shingleback (T. rugosa palarra) and the Rottnest Island Shingleback (T. rugosa konowi).
Pygmy Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua adelaidensis
Named after their short size, the Pygmy blue tongued skink only reaches lengths of around 6-7 inches. This species is so rare it was considered completely extinct for over 20 years until a specimen was found in 1992 aroud Adelaide (where its scientific name comes from).
Pigmy blue tongue skinks are not available in the pet trade as only a few thousands of them currently exist worldwide.
Tanimbar Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua scincoides chimaerea
Tanimbar blue tongue skinks are somewhat common as pets despite their unusual aggressiveness, possibly as a survival mechanism linked to the area of Tanimbar where they originate from.
Compared to other blue tongue skinks, other than their feisty behaviour, unique to the Tanimbar species is the slim, toned body and often silver-like, glossy coloration.
Western Blue Tongued Skink
Scientific name: Tiliqua occipitalis
The Western blue tongue skink is a medium-sized and aesthetically beautiful species from Australia. It sports a bright orange coloration with dark black streaks, and a short tail.
Western blueyes are somewhat rare in the pet trade, as they are not easy to find in captivity.
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